Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Person of the Shut the Hell Up

Nice job, Time Magazine, way to perpetuate the moronic nature that is our contemporary culture.

You had a 14 year old Pakistani girl who knowingly put herself in danger, was shot in the head, survived, and has only gained momentum for her cause--you know, wanting an education--and you go with the guy who got reelected as POTUS. I don't get it. I really don't.

Barack Obama: Person of the Year. Give me a break. I even voted for the guy. And, while I am a cynic who completely subscribes to the idea that Democrats and Republicans are the same damn thing and none of this matters (to an extent--read a previous post "Cynic Idealist"), I like a lot of things about Barack, and his administration, and his presidency.


Malala Yousafzai is effectually the face of change for the socio-political (and even religious) landscape of Pakistan. What the hell is wrong with you? I could not give less of a damn what your criteria or reasoning is for selecting Obama as your Person of the Year. You cannot possibly legitimate this choice outside of being completely ignorant to anything that matters in the entire world.

Yes, I am sticking by what sounds like hyperbole and meaning it literally. You've done this to me, world, and you can deal with the consequences via my prose. I know. You're terrified.

I cannot comprehend this total oversight. And, I'm not saying Time Magazine's Person of the Year matters. It doesn't. But, symbolically as a reflection of our societal values, this couldn't be more of a disappointment.

Like so many things, sometimes you just need a little boost, some hope, a reminder that people can be not only good, but smart, even wise. This is a total misstep. And, you know, I've changed my mind. It does matter. Now, more than ever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Looking Into A Mirror

Do you ever read, hear, or see something that just leaves you nodding quietly to yourself in total agreement and some level of surprise? Catch phrases like "You took the words right outta my mouth," "My thoughts exactly," and "Get out of my head!" don't quite capture the moment. After all, anybody can jinx, agree, or simply have a meaningful understanding. But there are these times, these precious times, when a person, a book, a poem, a soliloquy, a casual remark will stop you in your tracks and make you realize that you are not alone, someone does understand, and everything is beautiful.

I have loved Bukowski since being introduced to his works several years ago. I knew that he was someone I would want to impress upon meeting, and would likely do just the opposite. "Out of my league" doesn't begin to describe my sentiment. This was reinforced today when I started perusing (That word means the opposite of what you think it does, by the way. Thank you, Ethan.) quotes of his online and picking up Burning in Water Drowning in Flame.

The words washed over me like a veritable ingenuous tsunami. The feeling of being totally understood and verified is invaluable. These are the ones that got me the most:

“That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”

“We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

"there are worse things
than being alone
but it often takes
decades to realize this
and most often when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
than too late"
―"Oh Yes"

And of course...

"what matters most is how well you walk through the fire."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cynical Idealists

Now that all the election to mumbo jumbo is over, let me tell you what I really think.

To see my posts on facebook is to label me a liberal. And that would be expected. I mean, how many memes have I posted this election season? That's how I would have it up to this point. Because, when it comes down to it, I wanted Barack Obama to win this election. The thinking that leads me there may surprise you however, and that is what I'd like to share.

Democrats and Republicans are the same thing. I have this conversation with my closest friends on a regular basis, even when it's not high time for political discourse (e.g. an election year). We talk military industrial complex and the rights of corporations, well researched/presented conspiracy theories, and the seven old white men who rule the world. We talk about all of the things past red and blue that are "really" going on. We don't debate liberal and conservative. We know those things are there for show.

So then, Democrats = Republican. Eh, sort of.

On the big things, the things that matter, the life changing fabric of that which is and that which is not, real vs. illusion, science and the humanities, truth against perception...yes, They are. They are the same damn thing in as much as they are owned by the same corporations, no one's really morally good, the last few administrations haven't done a whole lot that is fundamentally different from the other. Obama and Romney are the two most moderate candidates that have probably ever run against one another. Patriot act, war, and those things considered: same.

Do I look at people who put faith in politics and think their side is right and their candidate is a hero and think a little less of their intellectual abilities? Kind of. Sometimes. Yes, I do. I'm sorry for that. I don't try to. I just can't help it sometimes. It's such a simple (and I mean that in the worst possible way) view of the way the world works. It's taking that which controls our social reality at face value. I think it's borderline stupid and it's definitely very dangerous. It doesn't make me angry (as most things tend to), it makes me afraid.

So why are Dems and Reps "sort of" the same? And why all of the liberal hogwash on your facebook wall, Shannon? What the fuck are you even trying to say or be? Do you believe anything at all, even that comes out of your own mouth?

Sorry! I'm getting there.

Symbolically, the two parties are different. Liberals stand for progress, equality, and a chance for all who weren't dealt the best hand. Conservatives, for tradition, freedom, and creating your own chance regardless of one's circumstances. These are abridged, simplified, and, of course, my own interpretations. But on some level, we all get an image of what the two parties are and stand for. Political parties are cognitive shortcuts for very complicated worldviews. Life is too short. We have to do it that way.

So, as a student of rhetoric, the symbolic is important to me. I fundamentally believe in higher taxes and more social services. I am a feminist (whether you like my enactment of it or not). My worldview most greatly aligns with that of the liberals. So, in this way, for the sake of appearances, I wanted Barack Obama to be elected. I wanted "my side" to win. If the people who agree that it doesn't matter and they're all the same choose to not vote in a symbolic gesture, why can't I do the same with a vote?

Then the "face values" meet the "what's really going ons" and enters the title of this post. The political party for those who see the world like me would be called the Cynical Idealists. Cynical because we know the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are the same damn thing. We're all screwed anyway. And there's not a goddamn thing that can be done about it. It's just too late. But we are Idealists for this reason. We do see actual differences in practice that have an impact on our daily lives. So, instead of sitting back and watching it all just fall apart because there's nothing we can do about the "big" things, we say, well, we'll vote for this party because, in theory, we're hoping for progress in these arenas: marriage equality, health care, military spending, social services. And so we cast a vote, knowing that it doesn't make a difference, and it also doesn't matter. But it sort of does...

There you have it. What I think of politics, why I voted for Barack Obama, and why you should never judge one's intellect solely based off of the political memes they post on facebook.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote...or Not

If you don't vote you can't complain.

I fundamentally disagree with this statement.

If you are educated and knowledgeable, passionate and informed, and have come to the conclusion that our system is, at its core, flawed, then why would you forfeit your right to state that simply because you on principle refuse to participate in it?

If you don't agree with either candidate and refuse to choose between the two that could win or among the several that won't, why is that wrong or unpatriotic or ignorant or reason to no longer have a voice that is valued?

Some would say because voting is your voice and you lose it if you don't exercise it. To that I would say, it is a voice with limited options. Voting is like a talking doll, no matter how many phrases are programmed into it, there's only so many phrases, and if none of them is what you want to say, why pull the string at all? Yes, of course there's the option to write in your vote. But if you take issue with the process, the very system itself, writing in the name of a person with no possibility of election just doesn't seem fitting, even symbolically.

Now, another argument for this vote or die mentality is that people died to give you the right, so you need to value it and honor them with your participation in the process. Well, this may be true, and their cause may have been just, but, for starters, no one insults the legacy of a soldier by continuing to fight for what is just. Same as you can support our troops without supporting the war. We honor the sacrifice of those before us by taking an interest in the betterment of our world. Voting is not the only way, neigh even the best way, to go about this.

So please, if you have read about the issues, or know that one candidate aligns best with your beliefs, or are excited about the process, or simply want to be a part of it all, by all means, go and vote. But if you are compelled to stay home today to avoid an overwhelming feeling of inauthenticity and defeat and make your own statement regarding our political state, don't be swayed by those who would have you believe this negates your voice, your "right" to have an opinion. It does not.

*This post does not endorse apathy, ignorance, or general disinterest. Only those who have made an informed decision regarding the voting process and its consequences.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Domestic Diva

What could have possibly gotten into me? Well, let's start with the theory and get to the practice. There are certain people in my life who left a dramatic impact. I suppose it is both because they are really awesome (obviously) and also, that they have a passion for a particular...thing that has somehow rubbed off on me.

In graduate school, Amanda turned me into a cycling-obsessed, workout-loving, active adventurer. This change stuck. I'm working my way back to my pre-Lyme self, but the bug is there. I will forever love the sense of accomplishment that comes with an early morning triathlon.

Now, present day. My dear friend Katie is little Susie (Feminist) Homemaker. Now, if you know anything about me, you know I pride myself in hating cooking. Why would anyone work so hard only to have to clean up after themselves? Restaurants are wonderful! Dining out is among my favorite pastimes. Really, I hated cooking to the extent that I was near the point of unappreciative of someone creating a culinary masterpiece for me.

I try to stay away from meat in my diet, and I love to eat healthy to the best of my ability. I'm also consistently broke, so eatin' on the cheap is a must. Well, Katie decided it was time to dive into some cooking lessons. After all, a broke-ass, (pseudo) vegetarian, health conscious consumer is a good candidate for home cooking.

We stopped by the farmers market to pick up the ingredients and headed back to her homey and welcoming kitchen. We made two pastas and threw together a peach cobbler. While I enjoyed myself, I didn't exactly catch the cooking bug. I mean, it just looked hard, and messy. I thanked her for the experience, but didn't really see adventures of chef-dom in my future. But, somehow, this week, something drastically changed. 

After stopping by the farmer's market on my own, I desired that peach cobbler Katie and I had made a few weeks before. But I not only desired the cobbler, I wanted to make the cobbler. An excitement came over me at the thought of slicing the peaches, preheating the oven, and looking over my success post baking. And so I did it. I made the cobbler. And then the next night I was home, I made a radish leaf soup Dara has been kind enough to whip up for me one night, and a tomato and breadcrumb appetizer.

So, there it is. I got the bug. It took hold of me in an odd sort of way, and quietly snuck in, but here I am fantasizing about what to do with the Tilapia fillets I picked up at Trader Joe's this weekend.

And I'm in the club.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Guess I Need to Vent

I am utterly amazed at the hatred and ignorance I see people express on facebook.

Ex. on Muslims and Islam: "george bush did the right thing. kill all those mutherfuckrs. Look what they did to us on 9.11.01 at least we can go into there little shacks and blow their heads off!"

If only we could eliminate that thinking. Where does it come from? What is this nonsense? So much of our society's hatred towards largely marginalized people really does come from a warped sense of contemporary Christianity. How can this be? Homophobia is the same.

How is it that the most ill advised, uninformed, misguided, uneducated ideologies are those that ring the loudest?

I understand the hypocrisy in what I am saying, but I can't help but become enraged nearly to the point of wishing violence upon these people. "You can't help the color of your skin, but being gay. That's an illness like pedophilia." There are no words to express my anger. I can feel my writing lacking eloquence.

This type of thinking has to be stopped. Actions that follow from this kind of thinking have to be stopped.

But how hopeless a cause. What can be done?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coming to Terms

I ran today. Not very far. Alka was kind enough to allow me to join her on her run around the Highland Park reservoir and even though I ran about 13% of the distance she did, it was still among the most triumphant moments I've experienced post-illness.

I am not completely well. I still ache each morning, pop 12 pills each and every day, and require significantly more rest than I ever had before. But I am steadily improving, and for all intensive purposes, I have my life back.

There are certain things that come with this knowledge that have become challenging to accept, however. It is, for example, a sharp reality that things will never "go back" to how they were before. I am a different person. There is nothing that can ever restore that easy-going, carefree, lucky spirit I possessed only 2 1/2 short years ago.

I am angry now. I mock those who complain of life's simple difficulties and frankly detest any suggestion of being "too sick" to do anything at all. You have no idea what sick is. You have never--ever--not been able to tie your shoes at the age of 23, have your mother bathe you in what should be the prime of you life. You do not know what it feels like to experience such physical anguish that you would sincerely give it to the person you loved the most just to be relieved of the burden. Chronic pain, and the hopelessness that accompanies it, is perhaps the absolute worst ailment one can endure because it--without reservation or care for your spirit--brings out the absolute worst there is in you, and leaves you, alone.

Do not, however, believe for a second that my cynicism and bitterness negate appreciation for every day I wake up alive. But those things are still very much a part of me. They are a reality of my being just as much as the color of my hair. My experience has changed me; there is no going back. And the simple suggestion that I am young or inexperienced, or "do not understand" is nothing short of infuriating to me. So, tread lightly with these topics, because I will not hesitate to introduce you to your ignorance.

There is no question, and I say without a hint of hesitation, that I am stronger than I was before. But I cannot even entertain the idea that I am somehow "better" for my trials, perhaps enlightened or even fortunate to have experience what I did. I cannot bring myself to say it eloquently. Fuck that nonsense. What I wouldn't give to have never known what it feels like to come to a resolve with yourself that, if the future looks as grim as the present, you absolutely will take your own life. No, I could do without that lovely notion, wisdom and all.

I could go back to being carefree.